Career Tips for Interns Relevant at Any Stage

Hiring interns is a great way to gain some extra capacity at work. At the same time, you are able to assist these students by providing them with real-world work experiences and the development of their portfolios and business skills.

I feel strongly about bringing on interns. It’s a great way to give back. I also frequently receive calls from college students whose assignment is to interview an alumnus about how college shaped them and how that experience translates into the work world.  

In both instances, I spend time mentoring and coaching them. Whenever possible, I connect them with others and offer job leads. I’m always proud when they land their next internship or, even better, that first job.

The other day when I had finished offering advice, I realized that the advice I was sharing with an intern, still applied to those seeking a job. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career, the basics remain the same.

1)      Join groups to network. Of course, I’m going to encourage you to join NFPW. But don’t limit yourself to one. And don’t limit yourself to your profession. Join a service organization, volunteer. The key is to meet people who can connect you to others. At the same time, you may be able to help others out.

2)      Post a profile to LinkedIn. Most HR offices check to see if you have a profile. They want to know that you are visible and are keeping your skills fresh. For those who say they don’t have enough time, I say, you can’t afford to not be visible. In less than an hour you can create a simple profile. Then check in once a month. That’s not a large investment in your career.

3)      It’s always appropriate to send a thank you. Some of us still send note cards, but an email thank you  is equally effective. It demonstrates that you have basic etiquette skills.

4)      If you are a freelancer, are between jobs or have more to share than what is on your work business card, consider ordering a personal business card. I’ve created one that lists my role with NFPW, my blog and how to reach me.

5)      Don’t stop learning. You may have finished your college courses, but the world is constantly changing. Keep up with current events. Participate in webinars and seminars. Attend conferences, including the Face 2 Face NFPW Conference in Chicago this August.

If you follow these tips for interns, your career will stay on a solid path.

Friendships Are a Key Perk of NFPW

NFPW friends visit the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

When people ask me about the benefits of NFPW, I always cite the friendships I’ve made.

The first few times I attended a conference I hung out with those I knew, but I made an effort to say hello to others. Electronic communications may be great, but “Face 2 Face” conversations build relationships.

In a few short years, I found myself eagerly anticipating the next conference because I would be seeing friends that gather once a year. Thankfully, Facebook and other social media platforms make it easier to stay in touch throughout the year.

What I love about these friends is that they are always willing to help. I’ve called on many NFPW friends for advice, suggestions and plain ol’ help. They’ve always responded.

NFPW is a group of women and men focused on all forms of communications. We aren’t competitive with each other; we’d much rather help each other.

And when it comes down to it, having friends helps make life easier and more enjoyable. It’s a benefit that is hard to measure, but is immeasurable.

Yet some people don’t understand the value of friends. I thought I would share this YouTube video that is the opposite of everything NFPW represents. None of these conversations would occur at our conferences. It’s a reminder of how fortunate we are to be proud members of NFPW.

Making the Social Media Commitment

The opening session at last month’s NonProfit 2.0 focused on free agents – those who write about your organization and/or actively volunteer with it. The discussion evolved into a discussion about how to get an organization to commit to social media.

Allison Fine noted that CEOs and Boards know they have to embrace social media, but they aren’t sure of how to go about doing that. “Organizational cultural change is hard,” Allison said. “We’re talking about culture shift.”

Beth Kanter added, “The message you need to send is patience.”

Of importance to executives is measuring ROI. Beth recommends looking at the four I’s.

1)      Return on Insight: You are learning how people feel about your organization and its work. You also learn how to do things better.

2)      Return on Interaction: How well are you engaging with people?

3)      Return on Investment: Are you converting people into supporters?

4)      Return on Impact: You need to track real-world results, both online and on land.

Social media is not simply about using it, it’s about engaging. “We need to engage and energize people,” Allison said.

One way to do that is to use interns to coach senior staff on using Twitter and Facebook. The goal is to leave the organization with capacity. Another way to offer training is to hold a brown bag lunch and provide training to all staff.

“You need courage and patience to do this well,” Beth said.

Are You Listening or Just Making Noise?

When a room full of social media users were asked about their listening experiences, one word emerged – overwhelmed.

“But real-time monitoring and getting a response out within an hour can be more important than the meeting you are supposed to attend,” said Chris Abraham, president and founding partner of Abraham & Harrison, a company that offers a menu of services to build a company’s online presence.

 He and others were discussing the importance of monitoring social media, or listening, as part of the NonProfit 2.0 Unconference recently.

Beth Kanter, author of “Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media” and co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit,” summarized core competencies around listening.

1)      Key words are king

2)      See the broad themes

3)      Use for workflow to engage externally and internally

4)      Develop information coping skills

One thing that Wendy Harman, social media manager for the American Red Cross, does is compile the 16 to 20 meatiest comments each day and sends widely as an email. She notes that this keeps everyone informed and shows the reach of social media.

The real question, Harman says, “Is what do we do with the content coming and how do we use it?”

“Misinformation – that’s where the listening comes in,” Harman adds. “I’m like a stalker. I need to be able to find people who are misinformed and reach out to them right away.”

The key is to provide them with the facts, Harman says.

Tools for listening are many and range from free to several hundred dollars a month. Tools used by the group include:

  • Technorati
  • Google Alerts
  • SM2
  • Twitter Search
  • Radian 6
  • Social Mention (it will search all of Facebook)
  • Addictomatic (creates a dashboard, but it’s busy)
  • How Sociable
  • Back Type (searches through blog posts)
  • Social Ping
  • Thrive/Small Act

Types of listening include, listening in real time, listening as research, listening for impact (ROI). That’s a lot of listening. But when the group was asked how much time they spent listening, most said, “Not enough.”

Beth recommended carving out 15 to 20 minutes each day or blocking an hour of your schedule on Friday.

If you want to learn more about how to be a good listener, Beth has a great presentation on the topic.

Courting Bloggers

Blogger outreach is all about the courtship.

At least according to Chris Abraham, president and founding partner of Abraham & Harrison, a company that “offers a complete menu of services to build a company’s online presence.” He shared his insights at the recent NonProfit 2.0 Unconference.

When his firm engages with bloggers he says, “We’re clear about what we want from you and what we can give you.”

One of the most effective ways to reach bloggers is to use a social media news release, which is one of the services of Abraham & Harrison.

When identifying bloggers to reach out to, Dan Krueger, director of client services for Abraham & Harrison, says it’s important to determine the demographics you need to target and the key words, or as he says, “the universes that would be receptive to the message.”

Dan also cautions about targeting mommy bloggers since everyone wants that group.

The list of targeted bloggers should be either geo-targeted or topic based. And, it’s important to always refresh the list of bloggers.

Once the bloggers are identified, an email is sent. “Follow-up is the most important thing,” Chris says. “This is when you begin conversing with the blogger.”

The initial email is a plain text, short message with a link to the social media news release.

The social media news release is critical because it provides everything the blogger needs. “We create one scrollable page that bloggers can post to their site,” Chris says.  “They get all the digestible information.”

Following the first email, Chris says the metrics are simple: “They post or they don’t.”

His firm never sends more than three emails, but notes that the second and sometimes third email usually get a higher response than the first one. “We need to reach out multiple times. People are busy; they don’t always get to the emails immediately,” Chris says. “We’re their nudge.”

If the outreach and conversation are successful, the blogger posts. And that, Chris says, “is an earned media mention.”